Continuing Covid outbreaks in prisons risks lives of inmates and staff
A custodial sentence could quickly become a death sentence for some
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts MP has raised concerns for the safety of Prison Officers and inmates in Wales following new data which shows significant increases in Covid-19 infections in Welsh prisons since May.
Responding to a Parliamentary Written Question by Ms Saville Roberts, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer MP revealed 1 in 5 (20%) of all reported positive cases amongst prisoners in England and Wales have been recorded in Welsh prisons. This is despite the fact that Welsh prisoners hold just 6% of the prison population.
There has been a 55% rise in prisoner cases in HMP Berwyn since 11 May. Staff cases have more than doubled at HMP Berwyn and increased by 35% at HMP Cardiff.
In the House of Commons, Ms Saville Robert’s Plaid Cymru colleague, Ben Lake MP, highlighted the effect this might have on the disproportionate number of BAME inmates in Welsh prisons, during a questions session on the Public Health England report on Covid-19’s impact on BAME people.
Liz Saville Roberts MP said:
“The government was slow to act when it came to the general population, it looks like those in prison have been given even less consideration by the Government.
“This not only puts offenders at risk, but also the huge numbers of prison officers and support staff that have no option to but to work in those conditions.
“If we needed any more evidence that the Westminster Government’s insistence on building super prisons is totally misplaced we can find it in these figures.
“If the Government does not get the outbreak under control in prisons quickly, a custodial sentence could quickly become a death sentence for some.”